John Holten

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John talks with Kristian Vistrup Madsen. We have a fascinating conversation about Kristian’s correspondence with a prisoner in the USA, what it means to tell people’s stories and how writing can lead to a better understanding of ourselves and the world at large. Kristian is a writer based in Berlin. He is a contributor to magazines such as Artforum, Frieze, Texte Zur Kunst and Kunstkritikk, and the recipient of the 2020 Broken Dimanche Press Writing Prize. DOING TIME, a collection of essays about prison correspondence, appropriation, and the boundaries of fiction, was published by Floating Opera Press in Summer 2021.
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John talks with writer Mark von Schlegell about a whole bunch of things: Jacques Derrida in NYC, Dublin’s Forty Foot, 19th century American literature, Mark’s unique fiction and criticism, LA in the 1990s, science fiction, being Lawrence Weiner’s archivist, Raymond Roussel. Also bonus—the author reads his work! And the Rapid Fire Question Round is quite circular this time around…
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John talks with May-Lan Tan. We talk writing, details, sex writing, screenplay readings… May-Lan is the author of the short story collection Things to Make and Break, published in the UK by Sceptre and in the US by Coffee House Press/Emily Books. Her fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, the Atlas Review, the Reader, and Areté. She studied art in London and now lives in Berlin. She works as a ghostwriter.
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John talks with Mayra A. Rodríguez Castro, a poet, writer and editor about life in Berlin—and other cities, the life and work of Audre Lorde and the book by Lorde which Castro edited in 2020, Dreams of Europe. Other topics include archives and the curiosity they encourage, the universal vs. the particular, the poetic impulse and a really fun rapid-fire-question round!
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This week John is joined by Miriam Stoney. Often working collaboratively, her practice is primarily textual, encompassing art writing, performance, audio and installation. In 2021 her first solo exhibition opened at Kunstverein Kevin Space in Vienna. She received the Broken Dimanche Press Writing Prize in 2020, and will publish her first novel, Things we wore later this year.
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The sun is shining in this one! In this episode John Holten is joined live on the Tropez terrace by artist and writer Mitch Speed. Reading his much commented upon essay, “The Case Against Art,” the conversation is anything but boring. Mitch Speed is an artist and writer based in Berlin. His book about Mark Leckey’s 1999 video artwork Fiorruci Made Me Hardcore, was published Afterall Books in Autumn 2019. He contributes to several publications, including Frieze, Mousse, Momus, and Camera Austria.
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No. 7 turned out to be a delight. This episode I changed the format up a bit because I had never met Musa Okwonga until I had the pleasure of having this conversation with him. I had read this extract last winter. It is now his upcoming book In The End, It Was All About Love—which is coming out in winter 2021 from Rough Trade Books in London. Part memoir, part poetry, part self-help guide to life in this unique city; it’s a look at memory, dating, sexuality, and more. In his reading and conversation, Okwonga will probably touch on, ...
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The Sommerbad in Volkspark Humboldthain feels like home to me. Rain or shine, I’ve spent hours in this public pool. It’s not a light-hearted summer fling. It’s true love to a point where I run past during off-season—which is the majority of the year—to peek through the fence and check on the pallid basins, the withering slide and the leafless trees waiting for the visitors to return. By summer the facility will be as neat as always—a true working class idyll with bright blue water, lush green trees and quaint flat-roofed structures. If it wasn’t for the ridiculously strict regulations, ...
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The British one-hit wonder Richard Sanderson is best known for singing about love, a kind of love constructed only for half way strangers, imaginations that he projects onto a single person. She could be everything! She could be the real fantasy. He could live in his dreams, so dreams could become reality, he wants the dream to be true so badly, he searches for the reality in it, he dissects it, he rethinks it, and he searches after it where he knows that it’ll be found. In it he sees only what confirms his search, the reality of it becomes ...
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Hearing someone say your name. A dear friend touching your arm. Feeling the texture of an unfamiliar object against your skin. The smell of frying fat, blooming oleander and chlorine mingling in your nostrils. Watching the pool water rhythmically spill over the edge of the basin and wash back in. This year’s summer programme was a visual and acoustic translation of touch and care. The swimming pool became the setting for a tender yet emphatic exhibition. The artworks blended into everyday life at the swimming pool. Children played the bronze gongs by Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld daily—sometimes more, sometimes less gently. The ...
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John talks with writer Rebecca Rukeyser about teaching creative writing, and writing workshops, the art of writing and editing, the revisionist western as a genre, her fantastic novel The Sea Plane on Final Approach and we carry out a daredevil reenactment from the book live.
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Want to hear some terrible French? This episode, I start with some dreadful French. But thankfully, it’s quickly forgotten thanks to the wonderful Samantha Bohatsch. Samantha’s practice covers many shapes and forms, with texts, reading performances, video and printed matter among them. I have a chat with Samantha about her work and her deployment of fiction in her narratives and the role performance takes. At the beginning I shamelessly bribe with presents. We talk about breakups right at the beginning of the pandemic, being in quarantine, and nature of writing, poetry and visual art practices.

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